Blending Genre

This is  the third stop on the Mystery Writer Blog Tours Ink.

This article is the third entry in a rolling blog tour on the topic of genre blending.  For the previous tour, please see Ryder Islington’s post on plotting. The details on all the participants in today’s tour are at the bottom of this post, as well as a link to the next article in the series. The next blog tour will be Wednesday and our subject will be our favorite reference books. It will start with Nancy Lauzon

Today’s subject: Genre Blending

The series I’m working on right now is squarely in the “cozy” mystery genre. For those of you who are not sure what that means, it’s usually defined as a  mystery  in which there is no graphic violence and sex. Many “traditional” mysteries fit that criteria, as well.

With SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS, plenty of sex goes on, but it happens off-camera. The reader doesn’t see it or any of the gory details of the unexpected death, either. And there really isn’t enough of that sex to qualify it as a romantic mystery. And the romance strains in the book are sort of, um, un-romantic.  But this first book in my series has definite paranormal elements. But does that make it a paranormal mystery?

No. Because it isn’t a driving thread to the story. What moves it forward is the mystery. Unsexed up. With no graphic violence. So it’s a cozy. (A word I really don’t like, but there you have it.)

I hope the example of what my book is and what is not helps clarify the mysterious thing that is genre. It’s very often about balance—which thread is the most important thread  in the book?

So if you are blending genre, both genre elements should be of equal importance. Let’s take romantic suspense, a very popular genre of it’s own, now. But, it’s a blending of romance and suspense or mystery. The couple is in a situation because of the suspense. The suspense is ratcheted up because of this romance. Or vice versa. You can’t pull it apart because one element hinges on the other.

As far as I’m concerned, genre blending makes a good story even better, more complicated and layered.

Where it gets complicated for writers, first-time novelists in particular, is defining which thread is the most important so that we can represent our manuscripts to an agent, publisher, and ultimately reader, in the most accurate way possible. It’s difficult for us to see our  own work clearly sometimes. But if you take the time to study your genre, read a lot of books in that genre,  it will help.

What genre are you writing in? What do you like to read?

Check out what some of the other writers on the blog tour say about genre blending.

The next entry in today’s tour is by John Hines I encourage you to complete the tour, and jump in there and comment.


Below is a list of the participants in today’s roll. We’d love it if you could stop by each of them and read more about genre blending.

7 thoughts on “Blending Genre

  1. Kathleen Kaska says:

    Morning Mollie,

    I agree that “cozy” is not the best term to describe a mystery that doesn’t splash graphic violence or sex throughout. My Sydney Lockhart mysteries have an element of romance, but it is subtle, which allows the reader to imagine what they wish. This way I don’t slow down the pacing or shift focus. I think the term turns many readers off. I describe my cozies as amateur-sleuth mysteries. Then go on to give my 30-second spiel. It usually works.
    Any ideas of what to rename the cozy?

  2. mollie says:

    Hey Kathleen! Thanks for posting. I like amateur sleuth mysteries. I read somewhere where one “cozy” author is calling her books suburban noir. I don’t think that’s quite accurate, though is has a ring to it. So, no I have no suggestions–right now. But it’s worth thinking aver.

  3. Ryder Islington says:

    I’ve really enjoyed reading the articles on this subject. Each has a different perspective on the subject, and together we created a well rounded discussion on the subject. I really enjoyed your take on Genre Bending/Blending as well as the rest of your blog. You’ve done a great job building this blog into something everyone can enjoy.

  4. Nancy Lauzon says:

    Great blog, Mollie, I enjoyed it. It’s so true. I wish we weren’t compelled to box ourselves into a genre at all.


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